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Introduction by Nicholas Royle
The Trauma Statement
The Strangled Garden
Catch Me If I Fall
Persistence of Vision
The Other Side of Silence
A Solace of Winter Rain
The House of Constant Shadow
With Black Foreboding Eyed
The Toymaker of Bremen
The Shadow Puppets
Room above the Shop
Hour of Departure
I Am a Creation of Now
The Devourer of Dreams
Story Notes & Acknowledgements
“Stephen Bacon is one of the most interesting new horror writers on the block. His work is elegant, elegiac, and understated, the stories sprinkled with fresh insights into the human condition. If there’s any justice in the world of weird fiction, this is a writer set to go places; and I, for one, am fascinated to see what kind of places they might be.”
— GARY MCMAHON, author of Pretty Little Dead Things, Hungry Hearts, and The Concrete Grove.
“Stephen Bacon is a fresh voice, but he writes with the maturity and storytelling chops of an old master. He has an uncanny ability to hook readers with the first line and then pull them willingly along into dark, unsettling situations. Peel Back the Sky is an impressive debut collection, rich with the kind of authentic, atmospheric chills found only in the very best horror fiction.”
— NORMAN PRENTISS, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Invisible Fences and Four Legs in the Morning.
“Stephen Bacon is well-versed in the traditions of supernatural fiction, but is also possessed of keen psychological insight and a potent sense of landscape. The stories in this debut collection range from hallucinatory Gothic nightmare to sombre urban realism – and the supernatural is not always the darkest possibility. The damaged children, broken families and ruined communities who haunt this book are already ghosts before death, unable to belong or touch reality. But don’t be scared off: the bleakness of Bacon’s ideas is moderated by the pleasure he takes in narrative and imagery. Watch out: there’s a blood-red snow coming down.”
— JOEL LANE, British Fantasy Award-winning writer of The Earth Wire
and Other Stories, The Witnesses Are Gone and The Blue Mask.
“Stephen Bacon’s stories are astonishing slices of cruelty and kindness,
populated with broken but hopeful people suffering the quiet trauma of living. Peel Back the Sky is a fearless and compassionate collection, and Stephen Bacon is a sharp, merciless, and sensitive writer. These stories crackle and thrum with pain and sorrow, love and hope. I couldn’t get enough. This brilliant collection heralds a new and important voice.”
— MICHAEL KELLY, author of Scratching the Surface and Undertow and Other Laments, and the Shirley Jackson-nominated editor of Apparitions, and Shadows & Tall Trees.
“As a writer – already a very good writer – he shows a huge amount of promise. If he’s this good now, how much better is he going to get?”
– NICHOLAS ROYLE, British Fantasy Society and World Fantasy award-nominated author of Regicide, The Director’s Cut, The Matter of the Heart, and Antwerp, from his introduction to Peel Back the Sky.